I announced on November 21, at the Priest’s Study Day that I have appointed Father Justin Braun as Vocation Director of the Diocese of Tyler. As I made this announcement I expressed my profound gratitude for the work of Father Jesudoss Thomas and Father Jesus Arroyave who have served as Co-
Directors of Vocations for the past six years. They have continued this important work during the especially challenging time when we were without a bishop and I deeply appreciate their dedication and hard work.
I am pleased that Father Braun has enthusiastically agreed to take on this additional responsibility. He will continue to serve as Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral and Priest Chaplain at Bishop Gorman Regional Catholic Schools. I know it will be a challenge for him to balance these various responsibilities but as a fine young priest I feel sure that he is up to the task. Father Braun has already been assisting Father Arroyave and Father Thomas as part of the Priestly Vocation Team along with our Chancellor, Father Hank Lanik, Father Victor Hernandez and Father Nolan Lowry.
The theme of the Priest’s Study Day where I announce the appointment of Father Braun was a Reflection on Priestly Vocations in the Diocese of Tyler and it was the perfect time to announce this development in the diocese. As I met with Father Braun to ask him to take on this responsibility I shared with him something of my experience as the first Vocation Director of the Diocese of Tyler. Bishop Charles Herzig, the first bishop of the diocese appointed me in March 1987 about a month after the diocese was formed and Bishop Herzig was ordained. It is a blessing for me to have been part of the growth of the diocese since those early days and especially in the area of Vocations it is easy to see the work of the Holy Spirit among us.
While Father Braun’s primary focus will be priestly vocations he will also be available to support the efforts of Sister Angelica Orozco EFMS who has done beautiful work in promoting the vocation of women to Vowed Religious Life. I know he will also be supportive to men who are discerning the Permanent Diaconate and in general he will be a voice encouraging every baptized Catholic to consider their specific vocational call. The world today demands that we support the call of the Lord in whatever form it takes and of course married life is a vocation that must be promoted as well because so many have little understanding of the importance of the commitment of marriage.
As I reflect on the promotion of vocations I want to highlight a beautiful tradition that has become part of our diocesan life. Once again on November 30, I will gather with all the altar servers who are able to attend as we celebrate their service in our parishes. These young people are a blessing as they assist the priests and deacons at the Eucharistic altar. I encouraged the priests to highlight the possible vocation of the boys to consider priesthood or permanent diaconate and for the girls to consider vowed religious life in the Church. Serving at the altar is an opportunity for boys and girls to become more comfortable with the mass and the beauty of the Eucharistic liturgy. The Lord calls all of us to live deeply committed lives in His Church and serving at the altar is an opportunity for boys and girls to reflect on the Lord’s call in very concrete ways. As Father Braun begins his work as Vocation Director I ask for your prayers that many boys may consider ordained ministry as priests or deacons and many girls may consider serving the Church as vowed religious. Let us pray that Mary the Mother of God may intercede for us all so that we may follow her example and say yes to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives.